‘It is important we not get complacent’: Greenpeace calls for national environmental protection scheme
Australia’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) is the only national agency capable of enforcing laws that are in breach of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the UN’s Paris Agreement on climate change.
The NEPA is the Australian government’s regulatory body for national and regional environmental protection, and is responsible for implementing the laws, regulations and policies that are meant to protect people, the environment and the economy.
“The NEPA has been at the forefront of addressing the global crisis of climate change and is now in a position to make significant progress in terms of the implementation of our national environmental policy,” Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said in March.
“It is imperative that the NEPA continue its leadership in this important area and make the necessary decisions to ensure that Australia’s climate action plan is effective and sustainable in the long term.”
A National Environmental Strategy for Australia’s Environment (NES) in 2020 would also need to be implemented to keep Australia’s carbon emissions below the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
“While we are a major economy and a leader in the world in terms in terms [of] emissions, we still need to take a step back to reflect on the long-term impacts of our current emissions and to take steps to reduce the environmental impacts of the country we live in,” Mr Frydenburg said.
“This is a matter that must be taken seriously and acted upon.”
In an article published in the Australian newspaper on Sunday, Greenpeace Australia campaigner Kate White said the federal government was “not ready” for the next round of global negotiations.
“There is no appetite in the government to commit to a strong and coherent national environmental plan,” she said.
“The Government is now on a roll to make a political decision that will not get Australia on track to meeting its emissions reduction target of the Paris Accord and its obligations under the Paris agreement,” she added.
“Instead, the Government is making a political mistake by announcing that it is now ready to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, which the Government has previously committed to.”
She said the proposed national environmental strategy should be implemented as quickly as possible, so that Australia can keep pace with its international obligations.
Ms White said a strong national environmental system was needed to ensure Australia meets its national climate commitments, such as emissions reduction targets, emissions trading scheme and CO2 reduction target.
“We must make sure that Australia is a world leader in protecting the environment, and that our emissions are under control,” she wrote.
“Otherwise we will have to take the easy way out and do nothing.”